How can I see the "full headers" of my Yahoo email messages?
I receive my e-mail at a Yahoo! Mail account. I've heard that I can view more information about where an e-mail message came from if I view the "full headers" of the e-mail. How can I view my email message headers in Yahoo! Mail?
All major web-based e-mail providers (Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, GMail, AOL mail, etc.) give you the means to view the "full headers" of an e-mail message, and this functionality is also present in all major desktop e-mail programs like Microsoft Outlook.
By default, all of these programs and web-based e-mail services will only show you the "simple headers" of an e-mail message -- usually just the "From:" address, the subject line, and the date. The "full headers" can reveal more information about the transmission path that the message followed from the sender's machine to the recipient's server. If the message was sent from a user in the U.S., but they routed the outgoing message through a machine in China, and then the message arrived at your work e-mail address but was then automatically forwarded to your Yahoo Mail account, the full headers will reveal all of that type of information.
A description of how to read and understand the full headers of an e-mail message is beyond the scope of this short blog post. But if you want to view the full headers of an e-mail message in Yahoo Mail, it's easy.
Take for example this spam that I received at my Yahoo Mail account:
The "From" line says that it's sent from the address "AlfredRusso48@yahoo.co.uk". However, I suspect that that "From" address might be forged, and that the message did not really come from one of Yahoo's machines. So I scroll down to the bottom of the message, and in the lower-right corner is the "Full Headers" link:
Click on that, and now the message opens again, this time with the full headers displayed:
In this case I note that the last e-mail header (the last e-mail header chronologically, which is the first header displayed in the list), says:
Received: from 184.108.40.206 (HELO n34.bullet.mail.ukl.yahoo.com) (220.127.116.11) by mta359.mail.mud.yahoo.com with SMTP; Tue, 13 May 2008 15:50:02 -0700This indicates (without getting into too much detail about how to read the e-mail headers) that the Yahoo Mail server did receive it from another Yahoo Mail server -- so, surprisingly, the "From" address is probably not forged. A spammer must have signed up for a Yahoo Mail account (or broken into someone's existing Yahoo Mail account) and used it to send a lot of spam before they were shut down.
To close the full headers, scroll down and click "Compact Headers" in the lower-right corner:
and the message will display with only simple headers, as before.
Bennett Haselton is a technology and political blogger who runs the world's largest proxy mailing list for helping people to get around Internet filters.
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